Red Lights

Reporter: Jackie Quist

Every day more than 5000 motorists play Russian roulette with red lights. With 200 people killed at intersections across the country each year and 18,000 seriously injured police and state governments are cracking down. In Queensland 88 Red Light Cameras ping nearly 27,000 motorists a year, New South Wales drivers caught out by the state's 200 Red Light Cameras with 29,000 fines posted out, and Victoria's.

173 red light cameras snap happy nearly 140,000 drivers fined, the government raking in hundreds of millions of dollars. Dr Peter Cooke says "Well you're pretty well guilty till you show you're not somehow." Adelaide University Professor Dr Peter Cooke is a physicist and disgruntled motorist who took exception to a $320 camera fine he copped for running a red light.

Dr Cooke claims "the lights were orange at least the lights that I was looking at were orange and I'd left the intersection by about one to two car lengths before they turned red, that's my recollection." Dr Cooke's recollection is at odds with the red light camera stills, clearly showing his Commodore crossing the intersection on the red. "I looked and the light was orange and I kept an eye on the lights until I was about two car lengths out of the intersection when the lights turned red" Dr Cooke states.

How do you beat photographic evidence? Well Dr Cooke discovered a law stating red light photos must show the traffic signals facing oncoming traffic. These pictures only showed two sets of lights, not all the lights before him his fine was thrown out. Dr Cooke believes "so you really need to be able to see at least the traffic light that you want to look at and as I told the magistrate what would happen if the middle light for instance was obscured by a truck?." "If you look on the left hand side there you can see the camera and on the right-hand side this is where I was stationary it was green" Cooke demonstrates.

Rob Levasseur insists he too was wrongly booked for running a red claiming the arrow was green when he entered this intersection turning red while he was stuck behind two cars but Robert also won on a technicality. The magistrate noticing the two red light photos of Roberts car at different points in the intersection recorded exactly the same time. So the judge described you as a Perry Mason? Robert Levasseur responds "Yeah he said we don't want to see you here again Robert cos you're just a Perry mason prosecutor said oh we had no hope of winning this, I said fair enough."

Lawyer Michael Woods claims "the weight of the legislation is against the poor motorists trying to challenge these things." Michael Woods conveys it "goes back to the old saying, if unsure get a copy of the photo have a look at it and the problem that you often see is that you don't know what a photograph doesn't contain unless you are there or you know the intersection."

Keating states "well I'm pleased with the outcome and I think its important that ordinary people in the community having received an infringement notice for an offence they didn't commit basically understand that the system is not loaded against them." No photo evidence against the former PM Paul Keating's word good enough two police officers failing to prove beyond reasonable doubt he was guilty. "You can't have someone tell you you did something you didn't do there has to be some moral clarity about the way we live our lives" believes Keating.

Still when it comes to camera fines motorists are guilty unless they can prove themselves innocent and that can be a long rough road.Dr Cooke explains "it takes a long time takes a lot of nervous energy and you get threatened left right and centre. If I hadn't turned up for court I got a little message from the local policeman that I would be arrested.""If you think its wrong fight it don't worry about lawyers do it yourself cheaper take a day off and do it that's all I could say" Levasseur asserts.

Let us know if you've had a win against red light cameras: tt@7perth.com.au